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SOFF People - Harry Bookless!
For the next couple of weeks we will be hearing from the different folk that make the Spirit of Folk Festival happen. This week we have Harry Bookless, Dublin based sound engineer and musician. Harry has been with us from the start and is always around to provide the craic and amazingly professional sound advice (pardon the pun!) Harry is also a member of three bands (Carriages, Little xs for Eyes and Colour Canyon) and we recommend you check them out!
My name is Harry and I have been the sound engineer for the Spirit Of Folk Festival for all of its 4 years. I’ve also been a performer at the festival, as a member of Little Xs For Eyes the first year and as a member of Carriages for the third and forth year.
Spirit Of Folk first came to my attention at a house party in Clontarf. Natasha and Emily knew I was part of the touring sound crew for The Dubliners and approached me about doing sound for a folk festival that they were thinking of putting on. I instantly thought about Sean Cannon from The Dubliners and how I would love to see him sing his song Cil Chais in their field. I may have even sang a very out of tune version of it to them in the kitchen that night. I thought that would be the last I would hear of it but Natasha and Emily proved me wrong by putting on four of the most beautiful festival weekends I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of.
Each year my involvement begins about 6 weeks before the festival. I start to gather information on the bands from Caroline Duke, our production manager and music booker, and begin planning the PA with Tom O’Brien of Audio International. Tom was the Dubliners’ sound engineer for about 100 years and we toured Europe together for the last 8 of those years, so Spirit Of Folk is a nice little reunion for us each year since the Dubliners called it a day.
We arrive on site the day before the festival, set up the PA and do a sound check. Then we have a stroll around the site and see what sort of vikings and fairy folk have turned up to brighten up the field. We’re so busy for the actual festival, that this is the only time we get to see what else happens around the grounds.
I have so many great memories of the festival that its hard to pick highlights but I’ll try. Lisa O Neill and John Spillane’s sets closing the Sunday night in 2012 were both incredible. And being lucky enough to watch them pass a guitar back and forth in the kitchen of the house until 5am that night was something I’ll never forget; meeting Bunoscionn the first year, when they played what seemed like a 72 hour session in the green room only breaking to play their actual set, and watching them come back each year a bigger and better band; finally getting to see my childhood pal, Rob Corcoran, perform his own songs live; Natasha’s inevitable outpouring of emotion on the Sunday night, and my own band, Carriages, being booked for our first gig at the festival and then getting to come back a year later, having played about 50 gigs around the country.
Spirit Of Folk means so much to me because its a family that has grown over four years, watching proudly as the little idea that Natasha and Emily had, first became a reality and then became an essential part of the festival calendar. And all the little aspects of it grew too, like the Hall Of Heroes spreading to other festivals, and Ferdia and Sara’s food stall becoming the amazing Home Fries caravan.
The buzz amongst the organisers as it all comes together and the feeling of accomplishment on the weekend is something I’ll never forget and will always feel proud to have been a part of. I’m already looking forward to blasting Graceland through the PA as the festival doors open in September.